Ek' Balam in the Yucatan. Photo © Jose Ignacio Soto/123rf.

Maya Ruins Near Cancún and Cozumel

Besides its incredible beaches and world-class resorts, Mexico’s Caribbean coast is also home to numerous ancient Maya ruins, including some of the most important archaeological sites in the country and the continent. A visit to one or more is well worth a day off the sand, even for committed beach hounds.

A monkey in a tree on Monkey Island. Photo © Paul Schlindwein/123rf.

The Natural Beauty of Nicaragua’s Las Isletas

The 365-island archipelago of Nicaragua formed when Volcán Mombacho erupted some 20,000 years ago, hurling its top half into the nearby lake in giant masses of rock, ash, and lava. The natural beauty of the isletas is spectacular there is plenty for history buffs to enjoy as well. The islanders themselves are interesting and friendly, maintaining a rural lifestyle unique in Nicaragua: Children paddle dugout canoes or rowboats to school from an early age, and their parents get along by fishing and farming or by taking camera-toting tourists for a ride in their boats.

San Andrés Ruins. Photo © Raúl Arias, licensed Creative Commons usage.

The Indigenous History of Panchimalco and the San Andres Ruins

The area surrounding San Salvador is rich with history and natural beauty. If you are in the area, it is definitely worth making a short drive (or bus ride) to explore the wonderful sights of Panchimalco and San Andrés Ruins and learn more about the indigenous people of El Salvador.

Mayan glyphs. Photo © Al Argueta.

Lost and Found: The Mystery of Guatemala’s Site Q

For much of the 20th century, looters worked Petén’s remote sites undisturbed, raiding tombs and extracting precious artifacts before archaeologists had a chance to study and document them. At the height of the looting, in the 1960s, archaeologists marveled at a series of magnificent glyphs making their way into a number of private collections and museums from an unknown site. Archaeologists dubbed the pieces’ origin “Site Q” and the search to find the mysterious producer of the wonderful glyphs was on.

View of downtown San Francisco lit up in the evening from Twin Peaks.

Mapping San Francisco, an Ever-Changing City

Geographically and culturally, San Francisco is anything but flat, and what level ground exists might at any moment give way. While earthquakes remake the land, social upheavals play a similar role in reminding that the only constant here is change.

View of Managua from La Loma de Tiscapa. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Managua’s Revolutionary Driving Tour

Historical trivia buffs, take note! A lot of Managua’s most historically salient points are close to invisible, in stark contrast to the role they played in the lead-up to the 1979 revolution. If you have a rainy afternoon in Managua, hop in a taxi and revisit history on this 30-minute driving tour.

Arecibo Observatory. Photo © Frank Van Den Eijnden/123rf.

Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory

Many significant astronomical discoveries have been made at the Arecibo Observatory in the last four decades. Learn more about the significant history of space study at the site of this massive dish telescope.

Mmmm, chocolate. Photo © Cindy Eccles/123rf.

A Taste of History: Aztec Chocolatl

The refreshing drink chocolatl enjoyed by Aztec nobility is a remote but distinct relative of the chocolate consumed today by hundreds of millions of people. In Mexico, chocolate is more than mere dessert; used to spice the tangy moles of southern Mexico, it’s virtually a national food.

Laguna Lachua in Guatemala. Photo © Al Argueta.

Laguna Lachuá National Park, Guatemala

Laguna Lachuá National Park, an almost perfectly circular turquoise lagoon, is its own ecological island, like a square patch of forest floating on a surrounding sea of deforestation. Here you can enjoy the refreshing waters and the dense forest all around in an atmosphere of utter tranquility.

Monumento al Indio. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Sights in Isabela, Puerto Rico

The area known today as Isabela was once ruled by Cacique Mabodamaca, one of the island’s most powerful Taíno chiefs. The town of Isabela features a charming little plaza anchored by a church, as are all town plazas, impressive cultural sights, ruins, and one of the most hair-raising mountain drives.